Tuesday, August 23, 2016

black and white and tired all over

  top and pants, Old Navy
 Clarks Preslet Stone sandals
     I'm alive! Just first-week-of-school tired. I actually charged my camera battery for the first time since I moved, but it's sitting in my desk drawer at work (I had vague plans to take photos of the students on the first day). So, please bear with the iPhone photos for the time being.
    I bought some clothes (massive August budget post on its way), but I still feel that my work wardrobe is pretty sparse. I've been trying to hit the thrift stores here and there, and have had some luck - just the other day I found a designer silk blouse for $3.99, snuggled among worn-out T-shirts. 
    I'm quite sure that a part of my much-awaited paycheck will go toward buying a comfortable pair of work shoes. I thought these Clarks would be my go-to. However, the toe box is surprisingly narrow, and I had sore feet by the end of the first day. I'm hoping they become more comfortable with wear. I gave my feet a break today and wore my wide and comfy Keen sandals to work, and no one seemed to notice. 
   I will write more about my job soon, but for now I will say that I am excited and hopeful, and that's a good way to feel at the start of any endeavor.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

boho blue

top, Forever 21
chambray shorts, Tommy Hilfiger outlet
moonstone earrings, Honolulu boutique

   I wore this to meet up with a friend on Saturday for lunch. I had an extremely cheesy Croque Monsieur sandwich, followed up with some lemon cake. The lemon cake, while generous in size, was a lightweight compared to some of the other offerings - my friend got a cake that basically filled the entire Styrofoam container!

     I bought these earrings a while back, but this is my first time wearing them. A boutique that sold Tibetan/Himalayan items - bags, jewelry, clothing - was having a great sale and I thought the moonstone was gorgeous! I haven't worn them because the clasp is tricky - you need to thread the hook end back into the loop. My ears hurt after wearing them, alas - not sure whether it's because they're a bit heavier than I'm used to, I haven't worn earrings much lately, or I'm sensitive to the metal.  
     Life in Vegas update: I moved to Vegas with the intention of working part-time/substitute teaching, but ended up landing myself a full-time teaching job! I'm alternately terror-stricken and excited. Terror-stricken because I haven't been in a "back to school" mindset at all, and I usually like to start mentally preparing a month before school begins. Excited because there are some really neat opportunities involved with this job and I think it will be a great learning experience.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

another interview outfit

Read: I'm currently working on a Zen book - "Seeds for a Boundless Life" - and a young-adult romance called "The Distance Between Us." The former book fascinates me - it's written by one of the female pioneers in Western Zen. I'm not a person who enjoys marking up her texts (either virtually or with an actual pen - blame my public school education, ha) - but I've found myself reaching for the highlight button in my online reader regularly to underline things that inspire or encourage me.
    I also recently finished Neil Gaiman's "Trigger Warnings" story collection.

Worn: Yes, more interview garb!

Alfani shirtdress, thrifted
belt, Old Navy

     I've come to the realization that I will need to buy some work-appropriate clothing - I could get away with dressing casually in Hawaii, but don't think that's going to fly in my new home.
     On my list of immediate wants: another pair of pants that aren't jeans, a couple of solid-colored shirts that aren't see-through or too low-cut, two pairs of shoes (not sure I can get through a whole day in my cute interview heels), and maybe a skirt or two. I've been eyeing two printed midi skirts (one plaid, one floral) from Old Navy, and hope to take a look at them in store. I know a plain skirt would be so much more versatile, but it's hard to shake my love of prints!
   Joined: The time suck that is Reddit. My favorite subreddits so far are the one for teachers and femalefashionadvice! What I think I enjoy most is the interaction - it's great to comment or ask a question and have people respond. I also enjoy sharing what little wisdom I have on the teachers subreddit.
   Completed: A 21-day free meditation program by Oprah and Deepak Chopra. I have my own meditation practice, but decided to join in to support a friend who is trying to develop her own practice. (It took me at least a decade to get to the point where I was sitting every day, so I empathize with the struggle). I do zazen, so it was interesting to try mantra meditation. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

July budget

Banana Republic roll-cuff cotton modal tank in beauty queen pink (60 cents)
   I haven't worn or washed this yet, but I liked the loose, relaxed fit and bright color. Depending on what kind of job I end up getting, I may be able to get away with wearing this to work, perhaps dressed up with a necklace or fun pair of earrings.

Banana Republic snake bracelet ($1.01)
    I was born in the Year of the Snake, so the design was appealing. Snake jewelry can be gaudy, but I thought the design of this was understated and simple. I've been wanting to get a Banana Republic bracelet for a while - they run small, and some of the simpler designs are great to pair with a watch for daily wear.

Old Navy embroidered slub-knit sleeveless top in heather gray (57 cents)
  Another easy-fitting tank. A reviewer mentioned that the white embroidery has a tonal effect on the heather gray version, so that's what I ended up getting.

Old Navy linen-blend cocoon dress ($1.31) 
  I wanted to like this so much - but the placement of the pockets/cut of the dress just don't work for me. It added a lot of bulk to my hips. I liked the fabric and print, but this one will be returned.

Total spent: $3.77 (used $55 in Rewards)
Budget: $50
Funds remaining: $46.23

  I'm between jobs right now, so I don't foresee doing any more shopping - unless I land a job with a dress code that doesn't allow jeans! I donated a lot of my clothing before moving, so I am working with a smaller closet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

chocolate cake, Slurpees, and interview garb


  • "The Chocolate Cake Sutra" by Geri Larkin was not quite what I expected, but that's a good thing.  Larkin's writing is accessible, down to earth, and funny. I haven't delved into Buddhist sutras yet, but reading Larkin's take on the Flower Ornament sutra may inspire me to read it for myself. Lots of turmoil and pain in our little world right now, and this is a book I would recommend to anyone who wishes to live thoughtfully and with care.
  •   "Dreams of Joy" by Lisa See. Sequels can be tricky, but I think See did a good job of writing a followup to her novel "Shanghai Girls" that lets her characters grow and change. It's a fascinating - and harrowing - look at China under Mao and the Great Leap Forward. It brought to mind "Animal Farm." I didn't know much about China during this time period, so it was an educational read. 
    I'm on the job hunt, and I wore this for both a phone interview and an in-person interview.

  top and Harper trousers, Old Navy
Clark Evant Regency heels, outlet
tassel necklace, eBay

   I'm still on the (seemingly eternal) quest for a decent-fitting pair of work pants. If I get a job that requires business casual garb, I will have to hit the mall and try on a ton of pants, because most of my bottoms are jeans. These are almost right, but not quite. I might try going down a size to see whether that helps - right now I feel the back is a bit too baggy and the waist doesn't sit where it should (midrise). A lot of the reviews say these pants stretch out a lot during wear, but I haven't noticed that - although I haven't worn them the whole day yet.

Peanut butter jelly baked oatmeal, based on this recipe. I did sub in butter for the coconut oil and just used the strawberry preserves that were in my cabinet. For the last month or so I've been working hard to live more healthfully - working out regularly and trying to eat better. This is a tasty, filling breakfast.

   I know, I know, I just said that I'm trying to live more healthfully. But when 7-11 is giving away free Slurpees, I will make an exception and indulge. I walked there and back, so I figure it all balanced out. I grew up drinking Icees, not Slurpees, so I went with the Coke flavor for verisimilitude (when I was a kid, the two Icee flavors were strawberry and Coke).

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

who I used to be

Read: My great goal for this month? Get a library card. Until then, I've been experimenting (out of necessity) with reading ebooks borrowed from my old library. I'm working on Geri Larkin's "The Chocolate Cake Sutra" in this way. I did finish rereading my own copy of Jose Saramago's "All the Names," and I'm hoarding an airport purchase - Haruki Murakami's "Hear the Wind Sing." I think of it as my emergency book (am I the only one who needs a few books set aside for peace of mind?) I've also been reading, in fits and starts, and bits and pieces, volume 1 of Proust via Project Gutenberg. I was inspired by this article.

Surprised by: By pure chance, I happened upon the blog that I wrote as a second-year teacher. It was strange to go back and read about those kids - all these years later, I still remember who was who (I used pseudonyms for everyone). My latest year in the classroom was my most challenging, and reading my old blog entries reminded me that there's always been challenges and that I brought a lot of hope and determination into my work. Curious? Click here to read my old blog.

Missing: My old life, and the comfort of having a dojo to practice at three times a week, and the comfort of having a fantastic group of people to meditate with once a week.

Grappling with: CHANGE. I'm trying my utmost to enjoy this as my usual summer break, but so much has changed - it's definitely an odd feeling to know that I won't be going back to the classroom as a full-time teacher next school year. Part of me is relieved -  slaving over writing a 30-page script for the first day, the frantic classroom cleaning and preparation, the anxiety dreams - they're all stressful. But at the same time, I feel as if I've lost a part of my identity. This is ironic, as I actively resisted the idea of being a classroom teacher for years. I remember being interviewed for my AmeriCorps VISTA position in an elementary school, being asked whether I was interested in eventually becoming a teacher, and honestly replying, "no." But now, I ask myself, "Can I still call myself a teacher?" Add in the anxiety of job hunting, and it's no wonder that this is a singular summer.
Grateful for: I don't want to end on an angst-ridden note, so I will list a few things I'm enjoying right now:
  • Trader's Joe's The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar. Pure yum. I might need one to stash with my emergency book. 
  • Some of the Vegas weather: midnight lightning storms, dramatic sunsets.
  • A fresh start.
  • Fresh blueberries with Greek yogurt for breakfast.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Shangri La

In early June, I booked a tour to see Shangri La, Doris Duke's home on Oahu. Photography within the home was off limits, but we were allowed to snap photos outside. I was a little perturbed (it must be my elementary teacher side showing) that some folks did not follow the rules about taking photos indoors and stealthily took phone photos. The inside was exquisite and worthy of photography, but ... I rather like how the no-photography rule helped me focus on being in the moment and absorbing the art directly, vs. through my camera lens.
Here are my "rule-abiding" (heh!) photos (taken with both my iPhone 4 and my Olympus camera):

Jali pavilion
Jali means "net," and the intricate screens are carved from a single piece of marble. Read about their origins and restoration here.

Water feature on the Grand Lawn

Wearing my trusty Old Navy black dress with a brightly colored kimono to feel more "arty" ; )

Beautiful, subtle textures and details. 

Take the time to look up. 

Guard camel (dates to Ming Dynasty). Check out the beautiful detail of the door. 

If you are ever on Oahu, I highly recommend taking the tour of Shangri La. Up to this point, the Lyon Arboretum has been my favorite place on Oahu, but I enjoyed Shangri La so much that they are now tied for #1.  I would happily go back again to absorb all of that gorgeous artwork!